Every Marine knows Opha Mae Johnson, the first woman who ever enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Now almost 100 years later, the first four females in history are graduating the gruelling 59-day infantry evaluation Thursday at the Marine Corps School of Infantry in Camp Geiger, the Marine Times reports.
Delta Company’s Harlee “Rambo” Bradford, Katie Gorz, Cristina Fuentes and one Marine who we have yet to identify started as a group of 15 enlisted women, the first to volunteer for a Marine Corps pilot course. The study comes from an announcement made in January from Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, to integrate women into previously closed combat jobs across all service branches.
For the duration of training, the female students were required to meet the same standards as their males counterparts. The women’s physical strength as well as their ability to keep up with men on the battlefield were highlighted on what many consider the most demanding course event — a 12 1/2 mile march in combat gear.
The hike lasted no more than 5 hours while each student hauled almost 90-pounds of gear, at nearly a 4 mph pace (almost a jog), rifle included.
The women still must pass a Combat Fitness Test with male scoring in the next two days, but the test is largely symbolic, despite being officially scored. Every Marine in every job field usually takes both a basic Physical Fitness Test and CFT at the beginning and end of their course curriculum.
These girls have already passed both tests with male standards.
Unfortunately, qualifying doesn’t mean entry into the infantry ranks quite yet. These four are just part of a 100-Marine pilot program aimed at testing the viability of women in Infantry training.
“The women who graduate from infantry training on Thursday will not be assigned to infantry units, nor will they earn an infantry occupational specialty. They will report to their originally slated schoolhouses to earn a non-combat MOS,” Capt. Carey of SOI-East wrote via email.
The Corps plans to send more female Marines through this pilot course within the next year. Currently there are 11 women in Echo Company and 8 in Alpha Company, the two companies behind Delta in training.
Women in other sister service branches are also excelling in their combat training. By the end of this year, six women sailors are expected to become the first formally assigned to a Riverine combat company.
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